THE Scottish Football Association has agreed a new four-year contract with Sky Sports to show Scotland's home friendly matches that, in conjunction with UEFA's new centralised media rights guarantee, is worth around £56m.
The deal also covers Scottish Youth Cup matches and adds to the broadcaster's portfolio that already includes Scotland's qualifying fixtures for both the 2016 European Championships and 2018 World Cup, William Hill Scottish Cup ties, 30 games in the Scottish Professional Football League, and Scotland under-21 matches.
The deal, up £6m on the previous arrangement, will allow the SFA to continue to invest in projects such as performance strategy, the seven regional performance schools and the increased number of youth team's matches, while also continuing to promote the women's game and take extra measures to prevent the creeping lure of match fixing from infiltrating the Scottish game.
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Stewart Regan, chief executive of the SFA, welcomed the move. "We are delighted to extend our excellent relationship with Sky Sports and look forward to at least another four years of world-class broadcasting of Scottish football's biggest events," he said.
"The success of the William Hill Scottish Cup has been enhanced by Sky Sports' extensive live coverage, the nation is fully behind Gordon Strachan as we continue our preparations ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers and the commitment to cover the Scottish FA Youth Cup allows supporters an opportunity to look at the next generation of young Scottish talent."
The deal is a boon for Scottish football at a time when both the SPFL and the League Cup remain without a title sponsor and reinforces Sky's commitment to covering the game north of the border as comprehensively as they do in England.
Barney Francis, Sky Sports managing director, said: "When it comes to Scottish football, Sky Sports has it covered. This new deal means we've got the best choice of international, league and cup football for our viewers for the next four years. Our commitment to Scottish football began on our first day in April 1991, and we're delighted to continue to tell the best stories from Scotland's domestic and international football calendar."
The deal, however, means there will be no competitive Scotland matches shown on terrestrial television for the next four years, something First Minister Alex Salmond previously described as "frankly unacceptable" when it emerged that none of Scotland's qualifying ties for the 2010 World Cup would be shown on free-to-air channels, with the BBC showing only England's matches.
"When it comes to getting the national team back on to the screens of all our citizens, it can be done and it should be done," said Salmond during the Campbell Swinton memorial lecture in 2008.